Small-town spirits and savvy

Lakeside liquor store employees outnumber residents

What does it say about a town when employees of the local liquor store outnumber the total population? It's safe to say thirst will not be a problem in the neighborhood, if nothing else.

Lakeside, the smallest incorporated town in Colorado – with fewer residents than you can count on two hands – recently welcomed one of the largest boozy businesses in the state, Molly’s Spirits, which opened at the end of November. The 35-person team arrived in the store's 36,000-square-foot space just in time to usher in the obligatory guzzling over the holiday season.

“Lakeside was chosen as a location because of its close proximity to I-70 and the need for the growing communities of LoHi, Highlands, Sloan’s Lake and Berkeley,” Molly’s founder Rufus Nagel says.

Molly’s is a marquee for beer, wine and spirits, with more than 10,000 products hand-selected by a knowledgeable team. The product lineup is thoughtfully overseen by long-time industry veterans, including Justin Savage, director of product and merchandising. Savage heads the spirited squad with roughly 20 years of retail experience under his belt, primarily from a grocery environment. Using a combination of market data, personal and professional knowledge, Molly’s produces customizable flavor profiles for loyalty program members.

Additional strategies for spirited success include engagement and warmth with customers to create a venue fitting for the neighborhood’s character.

“Having the best selection and compelling products in the state of Colorado,” is our differentiator, Nagel says. “Having a customer experience that is unique and tailored to each individual customer – we’re able to track what each customer buys so that when they return, we can be more informed on how to expand their tastes and knowledge, especially if they’re looking for new things to try.”

Beyond product expertise, curation and customer service, Molly’s team recognized that modern retail requires tech savvy to compete. And so the up-front investment in technology is apparent upon immediate entrance into the store. More than 10 large flat-screens feature live streaming in-store tastings, event coverage from the beer and booze-centric gatherings about town, such as the Great American Beer Festival, and sporting events so avid fans can avoid missing a single second of the big game.

Molly’s operators plan to further integrate in-store events and on-screen showings as well. For instance, if a specific brewery is highlighted for a tasting, simultaneous live tours of the manufacturing facility could play for shoppers to tune into on-screen. Moreover, electronic tags make price revisions instantaneous for sporadic flash happy hour sales and other immediate engagement tactics.

Nagel says the store has been well-received by the community.

“It takes a while to get the word out and people into the store. We need to reach more people to give us a try," he says. "The only downside is that our only retail neighbor is Walmart and the rest of the mall is still being built, so we’re somewhat isolated with our immediate neighbors being mostly raw dirt.”

Noting the local for craft beer and spirits movement in the marketplace, “We have created a Molly’s Spirits drink in collaboration with neighborhood bar Local 46,” Nagel added. “We wanted to hone in on what the ‘Molly’ would be in cocktail form, and we worked with them to develop a stock of recipes that we can offer to our patrons. We wanted to capture the spirit of the neighborhood.”

Categories: Companies, Company Perspectives